Flying to Disney with children can be an exciting time for your family, and it shouldn’t be stressful! I have flown my fair share to and from Orlando many times ~ sometimes with our children, and sometimes alone! Whether it was first hand experience, or observing other families, I think that there are some ways to make it less stress and more excitement when flying with kids!
Our first flight to Walt Disney World with our three kiddos was about 8 years ago. We decided to fly to Orlando for our Disney trip, and thankfully it was uneventful and full of excitement. The best part was it got us to Florida in two hours instead of two days :). But, it wasn’t without a lot of preparation that we had a successful flight there and home. Since then, I have flown with all three of them once, by myself. And then most recently I have flown with our daughter each time on our Mommy/Me Disney trips. Each flight ends up fine, but preparing beforehand to make it successful can take some work. Today, I am going to share some tips with you on flying with children, in hopes that the next time you are on your way to your next adventure, you feel prepared and excited…not stressed!
Pack an extra pair of clothes-underwear, shirt, and shorts-for each of your children. Being in such a small space can make for easy spills, and you don’t want your kids wet, sticky, and uncomfortable while trying to sit still in a small space. These can fit nicely in a gallon zip loc bag and stow them in their carry on. That way, you know where each child’s change of clothing is if you need it.
Give each child their own carry on. For our family, we typically use each child’s school backpack. These are easily accessible for them, and they can be stocked with snacks, books, their extra clothes, and their electronic devices for the flight. Also, it allows them to be hands free in the airport, and they are easy for them to manage by themselves.
Ask that the seat next to you be blocked if the flight isn’t full. This gives you an extra seat for a “lap” baby to sit and squirm on, or for your kids to have a little more room. If you’re not traveling with a lap baby, this could come in handy for extra room if your child wants to lay down and rest. I have found this is not often possible on flights leaving Orlando, but going down our flights aren’t usually full. Another option is to choose a row near the back of the plane, as those do not tend to fill up as quickly.
Try to schedule your flight at an “off” time. We tend to book flights for a mid morning or early afternoon departure. For our return home, we like to take a late afternoon or early evening flight. This schedule gives us some time for fun and the pool on arrival and departure day. Also, the Magical Express picks up 3 hours before your departing flight. I definitely factor that in when booking a return home, so we are not forced to leave so early in the morning.
Prepare your children for the flight by talking to them about what it’s like. The TSA website has a kid friendly video that shows how you proceed through security. This was very helpful in preparing our kids for the unknown of flying. We also talked about using quiet voices on the plane and how cool it is to fold down your tray and use it to draw, color, and have your snacks. I also keep a comfort item close by so they can snuggle with it on the ascent and descent. These tend to be the most stressful times of the flight for all of us.
To check bags or not to check bags? This will really depend on your airline, and a huge reason why we fly Southwest. With 5 of us, we have a lot of suitcases, so we like the advantage of each of us checking two bags for free. It is convenience to check bags, and most airlines do charge a fee. Often, it isn’t worth the extra hassle to live out of carry ons and take them through security when you have small children and/or a stroller on top of all the bags. If we can’t fly Southwest both ways, we at least try to fly them one way so we only have to pay to check bags with another airline once.
Consider flying on two separate airlines. When you are trying to fly economically-and justify the cost of flying vs driving-you want to find the best fares. I have seen low rates on our departure day, for example, but they are extremely high on the return. If I can’t adjust our travel dates, I then search for a cheaper fare for the return, in that example, to lower the cost. It has worked out a time or two for us to fly one airline down to Orlando and another back, or vice versa.
Upon landing in Orlando, plan to get a small meal or snack to make it until you get to your resort. All flights into Orlando land in their own terminal ~ Either A or B. In turn, you need to take a tram over to the main terminal to baggage claim. After this you will catch the Magical Express. This can add time to your travel. To avoid everyone being cranky, or if it is between meals, stop to get a small meal or snack before proceeding to Baggage Claim and/or the Magical Express. It can be 1 12/ to 2 hours from the time your plane lands to getting to your resort, and that can be a long wait for little tummies!
With a little preparation and some reasonable expectations, you can have a great flight to Orlando and start your Disney trip off on the right foot!